Relations between Switzerland and Georgia are excellent and characterised by exchanges in numerous fields. Switzerland supports Georgia with technical cooperation and humanitarian aid. Switzerland is also involved in helping resolve the conflicts in the South Caucasus region.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Relations between Switzerland and Georgia are good and close. Switzerland has been active in Georgia in the fields of humanitarian aid and development cooperation since 1991. As part of its protecting power mandates it has represented the diplomatic interests of Georgia in Moscow and those of Russia in Tbilissi since March 2009.
Switzerland and Georgia are developing their economic relations. Switzerland imports mainly primary products and exports pharmaceuticals, machines and watches. A free-trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Georgia was concluded in 2016.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Georgia can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Since 2013, Switzerland has provided support in a number of fields including vocational education and training in the agricultural sector and in public administration.
Peace promotion and human security
Peace promotion is at the core of Switzerland's activities in the South Caucasus.
On 8 August 2008, armed conflict broke out between Georgia and Russia over the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two countries subsequently broke off diplomatic relations At the request of both states, on 5 March 2009, Switzerland assumed the role of representing Georgia’s diplomatic interests in Moscow and those of the Russian Federation in Tbilisi.
As a result of Swiss mediation efforts, on 9 November 2011 Russia and Georgia signed an agreement on customs administration. Switzerland is involved in the implementation of the agreement as a neutral third party, which made it possible to settle differences between Georgia and Russia on Russia's accession to the WTO.
Switzerland is intensifying its efforts within the framework of its Cooperation Strategy South Caucasus 2013–2016 to find peaceful solutions to the various conflicts in the region.
Switzerland is pursuing its involvement in the region, as part of the follow-up to its 2014 chairmanship of the OSCE, with the appointment of Ambassador Günther Bächler as special representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus under the German Chairmanship. Mr Bächler represents the OSCE at the Geneva International Discussions and works to encourage dialogue and closer relations between the countries of the region.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The SDC aims both to increase and diversify sources of income among disadvantaged population groups in rural regions. Specifically, it is working to improve smallholder farmers’ vocational skills and facilitate their access to the market and to high-quality services especially in the areas of veterinary care, education and training, and specialist advice. It is also active in the fields governance and public services.
There is a lively cultural exchange between the Switzerland and Georgia even in the absence of a bilateral cultural exchange agreement. Contacts and initiatives on a private basis are especially rich in literature, music, film and the fine arts. The Swiss embassy in Tbilisi organises events in particular in connection with the Semaine de la langue française et de la francophonie (French language week), the Settimana della lingua italiana nel mondo (Italian language week) and in the month dedicated to the German language
Swiss nationals in Georgia
In 2016, 62 Swiss citizens were living in Georgia.
History of bilateral relations
In the 19th century, many Swiss nationals lived in Georgia. Some were active in the raw materials sector (oil, manganese) while others worked in cheese-making, thus helping to develop the local dairy industry. Switzerland maintained a consulate in Tbilisi from 1883 to 1922.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Switzerland recognised Georgia as an independent state on 23 December 1991. Swiss Humanitarian Aid was active in Georgia during and after the conflicts that shook Abkhazia and South Ossetia from 1991 to 1994 and in 2008. Since 1996, there has been a SDC cooperation office in Tbilisi.
In 1997, the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the international organisations in Geneva also became Georgia's embassy to Switzerland. The opening of the Swiss embassy in Tbilissi in June 2001 has helped strengthen relations between the two countries.
In late 2008, the EU mandated the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini to head the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia (IFFMCG). The mission investigated the causes of the conflict and presented its report on 30 September 2009.
Switzerland has played an active role in the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), whose mandate expired at the end of summer 2009.